What to do when you can't stop picturing them together

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It doesn’t matter if you’ve actually seen ‘the other woman’ or not. Your imagination can be your own worst enemy.

It’s natural (although painful) for your brain to obsess over that which it can’t understand or can’t face. Worse, like being told to ignore the elephant in the living room, as soon as a subject becomes taboo, our minds can’t resist the impulse to keep staring right at it.

So how can you stop that elephant from trampling what’s left of your peace of mind?

You might try feeding it. That’s right. Indulge it. Shovel over as much hay as it needs to satiate it and get it to stop crying out for attention. In other words, go ahead and take some time to watch your mental images. Give them free reign; even push yourself to play the movie in your head in more detail. Remove the power of the forbidden from the subject. Give yourself a good dose of ‘aversion therapy’ — kind of like forcing yourself to eat so many chocolates that you get ill and never want one again. Just like watching a favorite movie too many times. It takes the fun out of it. Playing your dreaded fantasy out in your mind releases much of its power to hurt you. Your mind gets tired of it and finally moves on to something else.

Lastly, realize that she isn’t getting the better part of the deal and might actually be suffering quite deeply.

Most women never want to ever become ‘the other woman’ and often fall in love with married men quite innocently, sometimes because they weren’t even informed that he wasn’t legally available.

She gets no security, no holidays with her beloved; he’s not there when her children are in the hospital … she gets nothing but stolen moments and broken promises. Understand that is a ‘real’ relationship, and also, because of the dynamics of unavailability, so passionate/desperate/conflicted, that it’s one of the hardest of all addictions to break. It strikes right to the core of our need for meaningful connection. So she often ends up too attached and conflicted to be able to get her life back on track — unable to move forward and have a real, satisfying life, but unable to get out of the relationship. “Other women” often end up old, bitter, lonely and deeply wounded souls. And the man they love doesn’t do anything but take advantage of their attachment.

Do you envy her?

He’s not doing her a service by continuing the affair any more than he’s doing one for you. Do you still respect your husband for how he’s treating the both of you?

Now you can clear your head and move forward. Seek marriage counseling or group support, and, in the process, forgive all three of you. Find a way to heal the marriage; because, right now, everybody’s hurting — and no one is getting what they want and need.